Jonathan Barnes’ new Short Trip gives us a very different perspective on a character we know well – the Third Doctor. “Jeremy” (the name ascribed to the Pertwee era Prime Minister on screen) is narrating a tape for the benefit of his successors, describing an alien arrival and the rather laissez faire attitude displayed by UNIT’s scientific advisor… until something happens that affects Jo Grant.
It’s a very neat idea, and presents us with a Third Doctor who isn’t always the patrician or mother hen figure – we’re reminded forcibly that he is an alien who’s been sentenced to exile on Earth, and does rather resent it. It also hints at some conflict between the Doctor and the British government in the past that is not quite as put to bed as one of the parties might choose to believe – opening all sorts of avenues for future storytelling, particularly now that Big Finish has Tim Treloar’s talents to call on to play not just the Doctor but also the Prime Minister. Treloar sounds increasingly confident as this incarnation of the Time Lord, and I’m delighted that his rendition will not be confined simply to the Third Doctor Adventures.
Short Trips have usually been little vignettes; this one feels more like an opening salvo. Lots of questions are posed by the closing seconds – and I look forward to finding out more.
Verdict: An unusual Short Trip in many ways. 8/10